Recent U of M graduate Nico Baier presented his paper Irrealis Morphology in Montana Salish at the 45th International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages at the University of Oregon, June 26-27, 2010.

This paper investigates the form and function of irrealis morphology in Montana Salish. While it has previously been thought that the irrealis prefix had a single form, ql-, this paper aims to show that it in fact has three allomorphs, ql-, qs- and q-. A second aim is to explore the interaction of the irrealis with aspectual morphology. Which allomorph of the irrealis prefix appears in a given form is conditioned both by the type of word to which the prefix attaches and by whether or not there are other (non-locative) prefixes following it. When a non-locative prefix follows the irrealis, the allomorph q- appears. In other cases, nominals are prefixed with ql- and verbs appear with qs-. This distinction between nominal and verbal irrealis parallels observations made by Mattina (1996) for Okanagan, though he analyzes variant prefix forms in that language as being separate morphemes, and not allomorphs of the same morpheme. The irrealis may combine with non- continuative or continuative verbal forms, corresponding to what Kroeber (1999) calls “irrealis-I” and “irrealis-II”, respectively. It is not clear how this opposition fits into the larger system of aspect in the language, as most of those irrealis forms marked as continuative do not seem to have continuative meanings.

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